|Caradog Tells the Romans How it is in Wales|
A research trip to trawl the South Wales Coalfield Collections for evidence of classically autodidactic miners has left me bewildered. Although the archives show that the miners were some of the best-read labourers of all time, I have failed to make sense of how they construed their historical ancestry.
I used to think that the supreme Welsh ancestor was Caradog or Caractacus, king of the Catuvellauni. These tribespeople expanded from Belgium to England and then Wales, where Caractacus led their last stand against Rome, only to be captured. At Rome, after delivering a beautiful oration to the Senate, Caradog was allowed to retire to some sunlit villa.
|Coin dated to reign of Magnus Maximus|
But some Welsh history books claim that their supreme ancestor was Roman. Caernarvon Castle, originally a Roman fort, ‘proves’ that the Romans chose Wales as the epicentre of their empire. One of the last Roman emperors, Magnus Maximus (who was actually Portuguese), slept with a Welsh woman and founded all the important Welsh dynasties.
|Venus & Anchises by Benjamin Haydon|
So are the Welsh Belgian or Portuguese? Neither, if you believe the 9th-century Historia Brittonum, which traces them back to Aeneas, via his son Ascanius, his grandson Brutus and his Wales-fixated great-grandson Kamber. Kamber gave Wales its ancient name Cambria. This means that the Welsh descend (as did Augustus) from Aphrodite/Venus and Anchises, one of the most celebrated matings of a god with a human in western mythography. Having Anchises as Ur-ancestor means that the Welsh are Turkish.
|Noah, plastered in his vineyard, & Sons|
That is unless you believe a variant in which they are Jewish, descended from Ham (or Cham), one of the sons whom Noah begat at the age of 500. Ham saw his father naked and drunk. He may then have castrated Noah, or slept with Noah’s wife, and was cursed. This is a good reason for founding a line which ends up in Beautiful Wales, although some Welsh insist that their ancestor was Ham’s less naughty brother Japheth. The trouble with this genealogy, however, is that it also involves Numa Pompilius, the second King of Rome, who was an indigenous Italian, from the ancient Sabine tribe in the Apennine hills.
One esoteric Welsh scholar traces his countrymen back to Abaris, a shaman from the Scythian Caucasus who brought the worship of Apollo to Snowdonia and whose name was actually Ap Rhys ('son of Rhys'). But the picture is complicated by Constantine’s mother St. Helena, who some say was a Welsh woman or a visitor to the Welsh town of Nevern, where she installed the True Cross. Helena, according to Byzantine sources, was a Greek from Roman Bithynia. TOO MUCH INFORMATION!
|Enthronement of the Victor at the 1960 Eisteddfod, Caernarvon|